[OPE-L:725] Re: Land Prices, Labor and Commodities

Gilbert Skillman (gskillman@mail.wesleyan.edu)
Wed, 13 Dec 1995 13:30:32 -0800

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> Gil Skillman (OPE-710) notes that there are prices of
> unimproved land and then remarks that we seem
> to have a case of exchange value with no
> labor inputs and hence no value. Yet, we
> have a price.
> I had always assumed that the first chapter dealt with
> an " ' immense accumulation of commodities' " and,
> thus, Marx limited his investigation in the chapter to
> those commodities which could be accumulated. Unless
> the amount of unimproved land is growing within capitalism,
> I'm not sure that it is part of presentation at this point.

I do not believe that these two comments address the issue.

First, the phrase in quotes is Marx quoting himself in the opening
paragraph of Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, and
there he does not use the term "accumulation" in the dynamic sense of
growth over time, but in the static sense of "collection" or "mass".

Second, it remains the case that nothing in the *structure* of Marx's
argument from exchange rules out the possibility that one of the
elements being exchanged is not a product of labor. Thus, unless
Marx is read as assuming his conclusion by limiting attention a priori to only
those goods that are products of labor (in which case his conclusion
is simply true by fiat, not analysis), then the fact remains that
he's committed a fallacy: relationships of equivalence do not
establish relationships of equality, expecially in that the former do
not support the inference that items in the equivalence set must have
some other "common element."

Gil Skillman